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Phantom Reviews

 

        By Elaine Brennan

 

        By Nick Newton

 

        By James Simpson

 

 


 

Phantom  in London

Phantom - Glyn Kerslake

Christine - Shona Lyndsey

Raoul - Mike Sterling

 

"Si! These things do happen!"

On The 22nd of April 1998 I was sitting in Her Majesty's Theatre drowning in programmes, posters, souvenir brochures etc. eagerly awaiting the curtain rising. I had been planning to go see Phantom again for sometime. I had heard rave reviews of Peter Cousens and couldn't wait to see him. However that was not to be. A few weeks before hand I heard the tragic news Peter was leaving and now I was here a quick look at my brochure left me quietly despairing, "Glyn who?"

"I am your angel of music"

From the first sound of Glyn's voice I was hooked. He had the voice of a true 'angel'. His "Insolent boy . . ." was so vehement I almost felt sorry for Raoul (note I said almost). When Glyn arrived on stage for the first time he seemed really confident in the role as though he had been playing the Phantom for years. "Music Of The Night" left me breathless and his "Fear can turn to love . . ." was so hopeful I felt myself welling up but stopped myself from crying. For the moment anyway.

Soon I caved. His scene on the angel was so heartfelt and despairing. When he cried "Oh, Christine" I thought he was about to faint and fall of the angel. Thankfully though he didn't, and managed to send the chandelier plummeting to the end of Act One.

After such an amazing first act I knew the second could be know where near as good. I was wrong.

The second act far surpassed the first. Largely, I would say, due to the fact that Glyn is on stage for most of it. His "Wandering Child" ooh. Words can not describe how I was feeling during it. I was in awe.

"Point of No Return" like "Music Of the Night" left me breathless. I myself had 'passed the point of no return' by this stage and when he sang his rendition of "All I Ask" I thought I would soon be following the path of the chandelier.

The Final Lair was perfect. He managed to convey so well both the anguish and passion of this scene. The condescension in his voice as he spat out "Be my guest, sir." Made me laugh out loud (much to the distaste of those around me).

Overall it was a flawless performance. Or was it??? I happened to note several little (ahem) mistakes our Mr Kerslake made.

While running of stage after "Stranger Than You Dreamt It" he dropped his mask and had to run back for it.

When walking down the staircase after the Masquerade scene he tripped on someone's costume and almost fell head first. What a grand entrance for Red Death that would have been.

Finally, during the Final Lair Christine's dress managed to get caught on his shoe and he stood there trying to subtly kick it of for about twenty seconds!!!

But little things like this are expected to happen. Even the most experienced phantoms I have heard

have had accidents " . . . beyond your imagination".

"Brava, brava, bravissima."

The show was magnificent. Better than I ever could have hoped. Another look at my programme ensured that Glyn Kerslake was a name I would not forget. The entire cast worked wonderfully together. Especially worth mentioning were Mike Sterling (Raoul) and Jasna Ivir (Carlotta) both giving spectacular performances that helped make this one of the most memorable afternoons of my life.

"It's over now the music of the night."

After disposing of my last soggy tissue I somehow managed to stumble out of the theatre where I waited at the stage door for about twenty minutes. Alas he never appeared. I contented myself by buying yet another souvenir and heading for the underground humming "Wandering Child" over and over.

by Elaine Brennnan

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Phantom  in London

Phantom - Glyn Kerslake

Christine - Shona Lyndsey

Raoul - Mike Sterling

 

Her Majesty's theatre was smaller than I expected. We were sitting a few rows back in the Dresscircle, which turned out to be not very good seats, as you couldn't see things at the front of the stage. The whole setting was very dark, as I'd expected, but somehow most of the sets weren't quite as atmospheric as I'd imagined.

I didn't really get into the show until the song 'The Phantom of the Opera'. The underground lair, with the blue misty lake and candles, was probably the best set I've seen, and I wish more of the musical had been down there. Glyn Kerslake as Phantom sang 'The Music of the Night' beautifully. 'Prima Donna' wasn't as good as I'd hoped, and Carlotta really wasn't very good. During 'Poor fool..' I finally told the girls next to me to stop chatting, I don't know anything more annoying!

From the hanging scene to the end of the 1st Act was super, and 'All I Ask of You' was great. I was very impressed with Mike Sterling as Raoul, and Christine handled the 1st Act well.

Christine didn't do so well in the 2nd Act; Shona Lindsay obviously wasn't on top form. I thought she was terrible in 'Point of No Return'. But apart from this, the 2nd Act did live up to my very high expectations. 'Masquerade' was wonderful, and I loved 'Point of No Return', despite Christine. The 'Wandering Child' scene was so passionate, and the Finale was about the best section out of any of the show's I've seen. It was breathtakingly emotional. I felt like crying for the Phantom, Glyn lived the part so brilliantly.

On the whole though I felt a little disappointed, but only because I'd expected too much, not because it wasn't as good as the other shows. I'm certain that I can enjoy it far more than I did this time, and I can't wait to see it again when I have a better seat.

by Nick Newton

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The Point Theatre, Dublin, Wed Nov 05 1998, Evening perf.

"The UK Touring Comapny

 

Phantom - Scott Davies

Raoul -

Christine - Zoe Curtlett

 

November 5th 1998 was possibly the best day of my life.

Early in the day I met up with Elaine for only the 2nd time. It was the day of her 18th birthday, and in the evening we were able to share a wonderful experience: Phantom of the Opera in the Point theatre, Dublin. The Point is a very large arena, completely different to Her Majesty's. We had amazing seats, only 6 rows back, which was so much more enjoyable than being in the circle in Her Majesty's. We had an incredible view, the stage filling up our whole vision, and we couldn't believe how lucky we were as we waited for the show to start.

The lights dimmed down to darkness. It was beginning! Throughout the auction all I could think about was the moment the phantom overture would kick in. From the moment it did, I was totally enraptured!

I watched avidly as the flashing chandelier ended up right over our heads. Unlike at Her Majesty's, I got into the show from the very first scene, and I really enjoyed 'Hannibel'. There was a much greater emphasis on comedy in the lighter scenes than in London, which was a really good change, and I found myself laughing a lot during the first act. Carlotta was wonderful, she had a great voice and was very funny, and the managers too were very humerous, especially Firman.

My first impression of Christine was that she was a bit too large, but then she was next to Meg who was very small! I didn't think Christine's voice was particularly wonderful, and she often pronounced words strangely, but I thought she acted the part very well. Raoul had a wonderful voice, and played the part really well too, except for one or two cheesy smiles! I enjoyed the 'Angel of Music' and 'Little Lotte' scenes, and was eagerly awaiting the first appearence of the phantom, played by Scott Davies, who Elaine had heard of. 'Phantom of the Opera' and 'Music of the Night' cannot help being wonderful scenes; the underground lair is so beautiful, but I didn't think Scott Davies did nearly as well here as Glyn Kerslake. He improved for 'Stranger than you dreamt it', the crawling along the floor was so good.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 'Notes/Prima Donna' scene, the characters really interacted well here. As in London, the hanging body of Buquet had a real impact, definitely one of my favourite moments. The 'On the roof' scene looked so beautiful, and Christine and Raoul did their best to make the emotion the same. The 'All I ask of you' reprise was out of this world. Suddenly Scott Davies was living as a man cut to pieces by seeing the woman he loves loving someone else, and you could feel this so much. He was a very soft phantom, and his weeping was amazing.

"And now, how you repaid me, denied me and betrayed me. He was bound to love you, when he heard you sing....oh Christine....Christine...."

These words touched me so deeply, I wanted to cry. During the interval I just wanted to relive this scene over and over again. There were more treats left in the act, the falling chandelier was a stunning ending!  As we hoped, the 2nd act was able to reach the same heights. 'Maquerade' was brilliant, I loved all the colourful costumes and the movement. By the 'Twisted every way' scene, Raoul and Christine were both doing brilliantly. I especially loved Raoul's "And this time, my clever friend, the disaster, WILL..BE..YOURS!", he said it with such venom it was brilliant! Another highlight was Christine's final verse of 'Wishing you were somehow here again', which she really belted out. The grave scene looked amazing, but it wasn't as moving as London, and also the phantom's little fireballs didn't shoot as far!

I was really hoping that 'Point of no return' would be a big improvement on London, and indeed it was.  Christine made it really sensual, as she should! I love the cry of 'Down once more!', as they plunge back down to the magical lair beyond the lake. The final scene lived up to our expectations. The phantom was out of this world, and I thought Christine was amazing here too. (Also, I loved the look on Raoul's face as he hung in the lasso). The phantom's mood swings were stunning, one moment he was in a frenzy, rushing about the stage, his hands shaking, and the next moment he would collapse in tears. There was a long moment of silence where he was deciding whether to release Raoul, and when he finally conceded, giving Christine up, his anguish made me cry. His last "Christine I love you..", followed by his weeping as Christine and Raoul sailed away, was just so moving.

Elaine and I were so happy afterwards. Even on it's own, this may have been the most enjoyable musical I've seen, but being with Elaine too, there is no doubt. I hope that Elaine and I will get to see Phantom together many more times in the future, and if I could, I would go and see it atleast once a month!

by Nick Newton

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Bristol Hippodrome, Wed, Jan 06 1999. Evening perf. 

"The UK Touring Company"

Phantom - Scott Davies

Raoul - Mike Sterling

Christine - Zoe Curtlett

This was the first time I'd ever seen a performance on Phantom outside London, and was not sure what to expect. Being Bristol would it be a bunch of useless wurzels, or what it be a fresh and vibrant productio n free to explore its own world? Shall we just say they tried very hard.

I knew that Scott Davies was playing the lead, and was pleased to find that Zoe Curtlett was playing Christine. However my usual irritation at finding the slip of paper in the program representing an understudy at the performance turned to joy when I found out it was Mike Sterling (from the London Production) in th e role of Raoul.

But enough of pleasure and joy, let's look the bad points first!..

Before I give a more detailed review, let me just make it clear that however bad the London cast is, they've certainly (and yes, unsurprisingly) got the show running in a well oiled fashion: and so when I saw the drapes getting stuck on the proscenium arch during the Overture at HM's recently, I was intensely irritated. This did mean, however, that it was not impossible for things to do wrong, and in some ways I was almost expecting the same problem to occur at Bristol, which is perhaps a good thing. Because it did. And, what's more, the drape was left stuck onto its velcro fastening, dangling for the entire first act. The stagehand, who I could see quite clearly, h ad absolutely no idea what to do.

Other negative points which I noticed, and again not as a total shock, were the lack of synergy among the ensemble, and lack of rapport between the managers. Yes, this was only the third time ever that particular cast had played together, and yes, I am aware the same problem strike the London casts before they seem to really get into their roles.

The actor playing Reyer clearly decided the role required him to act like Charlie Chaplin - a requirement I'd ne ver noticed previously - and completely overacted during both halves: perhaps it had something to do with the vague similarity in their hats and moustaches. Apart from when he doubled during Il Muto as chief duster to Carlotta's hair, when he decided that he would stand with a constipated look on his face behind Carlotta and remain motionless.

There was also some consternation at the end of Act 1, when the chandelier came crashing onto the stage with such force that some of the glass smashed and a stagehand had to come out to sweep it away. During Masquerade, some of the sequins came of Zoe's dress as she waltzed around the stage. But worst of all was Meg, who I've never cared for myself. Before you ask, I did realise that she was never going to wi n prizes for "Brains of France 1881" but does that necessitate her having to speak with a Barbie-doll-squeaky voice for the entire production? I think not. Better be careful what I say though, it transpires from the programme, she is Scott Davie s' wife!.. Perhaps she could take lessons from a great teacher?

Other, smaller faults, included the failure of the skull to fire at R & C during the Mausoleum scene correctly; the opening of the curtain to the side of the travellator allowing t he entire right hand side of the audience to see the backstage staff; some very evident hasty nailing of a bit of black wood over some part of the back of the stage which became visible during AIAOY; and a throne that worked *so slowly* that the "mag ic" was obvious. Although to be fair, the chair was probably fine and it was all Meg's fault. These were all minor things individually, but they all added up...

OK - enough of the negatives. This production did have some very good points, and not just in Scott Davies and Mike Sterling. It was very nice, in a kind of sentimental way, to hear the audience applaud the masquerade staircase (which I believe they used to do when the London production first opened); and Madame Giry - played by an actress I'd never heard of - Valerie Cutko - was excellent. She really got into the part, and although she had such a deep voice, and was so tall, I'm convinced she was really a man with a very tight corset, praise must go to her. So often, the part of Madam e Giry is played down, and her significance to the production ignored, but that was certainly not the case tonight. It was great also, on a different topic, to *not* be able to hear the masquerade staircase being pushed back after Masquerade; because the stage-crew were making a decent effort, unlike some crews I could mention (Her Majesty's), to keep the noise down.

Carlotta was no Jasna Ivir, but she certainly made a decent stab at the role, and got the laughs in most of the right parts. There were moment s however where she couldn't quite pull the role off: for example, the lyrics are: "'Ere's our little flower..." but she said "Here" instead of "Ere", and so it didn't quite work. It's that sort of attention to detail that ma rks out the good actors from the great. Another example would be when she tried to pass her scarf over her head during "Think of Me", but snagged it instead on her crown. Much tittering ensued. I tutted. Oh - and she was a thin woman, and didn't look like an Opera Diva at all, despite the best efforts of the wardrobe department. Must try harder, methinks.

But to Scott Davies. I'd never managed to hear Scott play at HM's, although I'd heard favourable reviews of him from some. He is not the best Phantom I've ever heard, but he does have that attention to detail I mentioned above in most of his actions, and a good strong voice. He does have however a tendency to swallow some of his words, and there can surely be no reason for him feeling the need to sing "music shall surround yuh" during Music Of The Night rather than enunciate his words clearly as Erik undoubtedly would. Davies also seemed to come in rather too early in some songs, and the orchestra was certainly not ready for his "Down once more" so soon after the end of 'Point Of No Return'. This did seem to have improved when I saw him again, 2 days later, incidentally...

I've always felt that the Phantom's first entrance behind the mirror is fantastic, but there is such a let down with th e weak and poor opening bars to The Phantom Of The Opera when the doubles are flitting around the stage. It was unfortunate that the doubles hadn't realised that they had to wait for the first couple to go off stage before the second couple come on for the effect to work, b ut even if they had done it perfectly, those few seconds of scene change are inevitably dire. Far too slow - and I'm convinced every time I hear them that the sound-system has broken. So I shall skip his effort during this song. It was good, but I'm sure even I could sound good if I had time to go around recording it at my leisure.

Music Of The Night was fine, and YES! he caught Christine when he fainted, laid her tenderly in the boat, and still managed to hold the final note almost perfectly. Glyn Kerslake I hope you' re reading this! If it weren't for the minor imperfections and his insistence on "yuh" instead of "you" this would have been an excellent rendition; but unfortunately, his next entrance with "Christine, Christine" after All I Ask Of  You was nothing if not mediocre.

The interval must have given him time to focus however, and his entrance in Act 2 was good. Personally, I *like* them to move their jaw on the Death's mask in time with every word, although I know many don't, and so le t me just say that - I - was pleased. It did of course look a bit odd seeing him run off the stage rather than just disappear through the trap door.

The musical on the whole really begins to deserve its superstar status from the beginning of "Twisted Every Way" onwards, and as you can imagine the graveyard scene was quite superb. Mike is a great singer, and Scott was in fine form. Zoe, well, she did her best which isn't all that bad really... but it didn't matter.

This was very good indeed and gave a ll three of the principals a chance to show their full potential. Point Of No Return was one of the best I've heard in a very long time. Scott continued in fine voice, and his movements were absolutely deliberate and calculated at every term. You could sense the tension from 10 rows away as he used Christine's hand to caress his body from the safety of the black cloak, and his fingers were tensed as he held her hand. He turned his back on Christine, not daring to look back, during "Say you'll share with me . . ."; only turning round at the last minute to run off the stage with her, with such a pathetic (and I use that in its fullest sense - meaning full of pathos) look in his eyes, it was heart-rending, and the girl next to me burst into tears.

As an aside, t he end of Point Of No Return is such an excellent use of musical motifs. Just as the audience expects him to finish the phrase "All I ask of" the music jumps and suddenly a whole new furore ensues. The audience's expectations are inevitably completely thrown by such contrasting juxtapositions in the music, which is why the scene works so well. The lyrics to Point Of No Return, it goes without saying, are certainly among the finest that have ever accompanied any of Andrew Lloyd Webber's songs, with so many double meanings and hidden depths built into every line it's quite superb.

But back to the chase. The final lair has always been the make or break of Phantoms, and Scott Davies made it his own. As they first entered the lair, and Christine rounds on Erik with a sudden new-found co urage, he looked so lost and helpless it was awful. He tried to make for the sanctity of his throne but couldn't make it and just stood still in shock, uncertain for the first time what to do. He would have been completely lost of it were not for the arri val of Raoul at the trellis. The hideous and despairing laughter and cries that accompanied "Order your fine horses now, raise up your hands to the level of your eyes" were truly from the heart, and his "you try my patience" was impressively fri ghtening, a growl not unlike that we used to hear from Peter Cousens.

Later, as Christine kissed him for the first time he dared not even touch her with one finger, unlike Point Of No Return when he easily dared to touch her from behind the safety of his cloak. Then as she kissed him for a second time his hands rose up behind her, and again hardly dare touch her, as they shook and trembled. Perhaps Davies doesn't leave quite as long as I would like between the kiss and the release of Raoul (and I'm still voting for Raouls to cry "no" during the kiss, as they did for a while, but have now stopped) and he walks quite purposefully over the stage to get the candle off the organ. There is no tense moment when we don't know what's going to happen to Raoul because i t's all over too quickly. Then, as they leave, the crescendo up to "Go now, go now and leave me" doesn't quite happen quickly enough and the preceding words of "Take the boat swear to me never to tell..." were not quite forceful enough . But then as Raoul & Christine finally leave, the pain and whimpering in Erik seems to fill every nerve in his body. Davies bends over almost completely backwards and almost looses control, his hands flailing around above his head, and he collapses on the floor. He doesn't look as distraught as I've seen other Phantoms when Christine hands the ring back, but the cries and his covering up of the Monkey on the musical box are touching indeed. Again, perhaps he recovers from the emotional traumas too quickly for my liking, but to see that as a seriously negative point would be churlish.

This was Phantom as it should be done. If Davies could make his performance consistently as good as it is when it's at its best, he would be up there among the tops. Not that it counts for anything frankly, but the audience were keen on him 'though...

So overall comments? Crew: Good. Mike and Scott: Excellent. Zoe: Good. Other principals: Shall we just say, I'll come and review again in a few weeks...

Which leaves marks out o f 10 at 7. Although they would be considerably less if Davies hadn't been there, I can tell you!

James Simpson.

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Michael Crawford In Phantom

It was September 1987 - the earliest date we could get when we booked six months before. My husband and I flew over to London from Dublin to see the Phantom of the Opera.  I checked the tickets a few times during the day just to be sure they were still safe.  Finally the evening arrived and we walked to Her Majesty's Theatre.  The replica gas lamps flickering on the front of the theatre set the mood as we went inside.  The first thing we did was check the board announcing changes in cast for that performance. No major changes were announced so we could relax, we were going to see theoriginal Phantom!  We had not been able to get two seats together so as we
walked into the parterre we separated.  I got one of the best seats in the house in row D just a couple of rows from the stage - I think they had removed two rows to accommodate the large orchestra.  Michael Crawford was on the Wogan TV show in December 1986 when he spoke to Victoria Principal (Dallas) on the 'phone.  She told him she was going to the show that night and asked him was her seat OK?     He asked her where she was sitting and when she said, "row C" he said, "oh that's in the boat!".  Anyway if I had been any nearer the stage I would have had to play an instrument!  As the orchestra tuned up anticipation grew.  I had heard the music of course and wanted to see it in context but there had been so much hype could the show live up to it?   The make-up, the boat, that chandelier, and of course most important of all the Phantom - could any performance really live up to the unbelievable publicity Michael Crawford's had received.   We would soon know.  The atmosphere was perfect, as Her Majesty's Theatre when built in 1705 was the first English opera house.  The current building we were sitting in dated from 1897 and had a lovely warm, intimate air holding about 1,200. 

The Auctioneer's gavel fell and the show was under way.

The luscious overture and the chandelier raising slowly overhead were a fantastic beginning.  Of course it was to get better.  When the Phantom appeared for the first time in that mirror with the mist swirling about him it was riveting.  The actor playing the part cannot of course use his face to express the Phantom's feelings so he has to use his body and his hands instead.   Michael Crawford's every movement spoke for him and said so much. His hands in particular were extraordinarily expressive. Every move and every gesture was so smooth.  When angry or dominant his body stiffened and he appeared to grow in stature whilst in a vulnerable moment he seemed to crumple a little.   This was not overdone - it was just perfection.  I have seen other actors play the Phantom since that night and his characterisation of the Phantom was so much more *subtle* than any of them.  It is very hard to describe.   He conveyed the Phantom's emotions without over dramatising. His Phantom has differed from others I have seen in many ways, just one of which was the way that he moved around the stage.  He appeared to glide rather than walk as if he were above the ground not on it; this gave the Phantom an ethereal quality I have not seen since.     His voice was wonderful, it filled the theatre and his tone really made the hairs on the back of the neck stand on end.  He seemed to draw not only Christine but also the whole audience
in towards him as he sang. 

Soon we were below the Opera house and the lake opened up where once the stage had been.    The boat just slid across the water, I could almost hear the splash of the oar as the Phantom propelled it forward.  When Michael Crawford sang "Sing to me Angel" he managed to avoid either begging or demanding (both of which I have seen since) but combined with his body movements it was clear he was *willing* Christine to sing for him.  When she did, his body conveyed the ecstasy the Phantom was feeling.   During "Music of the Night" the Phantom was at his most sensual every move seemed to speak of his pent-up physical longing as well as his great emotional need for Christine.  As he sang "Floating, falling, sweet intoxication!" etc. with his arm around Christine and they swayed together it was almost hypnotic.  By this point Michael Crawford had his audience in thrall as much as the Phantom had Christine.  I have the video of this piece made at the time of the opening of the show but he had developed and refined the performance a great deal in the intervening year and it was much more powerful that night live on stage.  All during this scene he travelled across the stage so quietly, so smoothly the Phantom had an otherworldly quality. When eventually Christine fainted he caught and carried her as if she was weightless.  Then he laid
her down so gently and covered her with such tenderness it brought tears to the eyes.   So much thought and work must have gone into every moment of this performance.   It was so seamless and so intense.

In the next scene when Christine snatches the mask from the Phantom as he sits at the organ it was as if she had stuck a pin in a sleeping lion so ferocious was his reaction.    The effect was as if iced water had been poured over you after the dreamlike quality of the scene that had gone before. Yet behind the anger you could feel the terrible humiliation the Phantom was experiencing.  This is why, for me, Michael Crawford's performance stands so far above the others I have seen.  He achieved such a close bond with the audience that you could feel what the Phantom was feeling, so powerful was his portrayal.  Combined with this was an extraordinary stage presence, wherever he was, on stage or above it, you were drawn to him like a magnet. 

In the scene on the roof of the opera house when the Phantom sings  "I gave you my music" from  the ornamental centrepiece suspended over the  stage he was almost over my head.   The whole thing swayed gently at the  end of its wires as he sang.  I would not have switched places with him for any money.   Somehow from further away it has never looked so precarious a perch as it did that night or maybe I have felt less concerned for the safety of subsequent Phantoms?

After the interval I enjoyed immensely the colour and the movement of Masquerade and then the Phantom was back with us once more.  As he tore the chain from Christine's throat his tone was as harsh as his action.  More anger in the graveyard then on to "Point of No Return".  This scene was
very powerful as Michael  took the Phantom through different moods.   The extremely sensual, dominant figure of Don Juan at the beginning of the scene then as his identity is revealed the transformation into a very vulnerable figure, a very real man, beseeching Christine with the line
"Anywhere you go let me go too-".  When at last we saw the face of the Phantom it was truly repellent - more awful than Phantoms I have seen since - worth every minute in the make up chair.

In the final scene we went through so many emotions with the Phantom as he fought desperately for the woman he loved so totally.  Actors I have seen since have portrayed him as thoroughly evil, a very unsympathetic character.   In contrast I am sure the audience would have forgiven Michael's Phantom anything.  His was a desperate man, scarred and distorted by so much rejection but we could understand his actions - they were evil, he was not.

When Christine kissed the Phantom his body shuddered as if an electric current ran through it.   I have never heard the Phantom's declaration of love to Christine sung with anything approaching the feeling he put into it.  Then finally she was gone.   Picking up the wedding veil and holding it to
his cheek Michael sank to his knees.  It was only then that his Phantom broke down completely and the full extent of his pain hit the audience as that terrible, pitiful sob of "Christine"escaped, it seemed, from the depths of his soul.

When the curtain fell the roar of the audience was unbelievable.  Everyone was on their feet cheering.  When Michael  came on he seemed a little subdued as if he had not quite recovered from the emotion and tears of that final scene.  When he returned a moment later however all trace of the
Phantom was gone. He had a huge smile on his face (well what you could see of it with the mask now back in place) as he acknowledged the applause from every part of the house.    The cheering, the "bravo's" went on and on and on.  The ovation seemed to go on forever. Eventually Michael spoke to the audience from the stage but the overwhelming experience of that evening has blotted out all memory of what he said.

The orchestra played on as we walked out into the street.  On the pavement around the theatre people were settling down in their sleeping bags ready for a long, cold wait in the hope of returns the next night.  If they got in it would be worth every minute of the wait!

We did not go to the stage door.  This may sound fanciful but it is true.  My thoughts were not on Michael Crawford, the actor, sitting in his dressing room, removing his make up and preparing to go home.  They were still with another man, broken and alone, somewhere in the night - the
Phantom.

Michael Crawford's performance not only lived up to all the publicity - it surpassed it by a mile.

Marie Collins

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